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TJ's Jones well-positioned for Terps QB job

September 21, 1998|By BOB PARASILITI

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Once again, the University of Maryland will be looking for a way to keep up with the Joneses of college football.

Meanwhile, Terrapin quarterback Ken Mastrole will be trying to stay ahead of one on his own team.

Like it or not, a full-fledged quarterback controversy has hit College Park, Md., pitting Mastrole against freshman and Thomas Johnson alum Randall Jones for the task of leading the Terps against Temple this weekend. The prelude to the coming week of Terrapin turbulence came in Saturday's 42-20 whipping by No. 19-ranked West Virginia at Mountaineer Field.

--cont. from sports page--

Forget that WVU's offense led Maryland's defense around the field by its face mask. It was more a case of the offense failing to put up a fight to keep the game competitive.

Yet, controversy was shortened to a four-letter word in the Terrapin locker room.

"I was very impressed with what Randall came in and did," Maryland coach Ron Vanderlinden said. "It's too early to make any permanent decisions or even who will play next week. I still have a lot of confidence in Ken ... And that's all I'm going to say about the quarterbacks."

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It is just enough, especially with the numbers the two quarterbacks posted and the fact that Maryland will be facing Temple, a team that is struggling more than the Terps, giving an ample chance to start a new, young quarterback.

WVU (1-1) took Maryland's offense apart in pieces. First, the Mountaineers stopped tailback LaMont Jordan in his tracks. WVU keyed on the sophomore's moves and shut Jordan down on one yard in nine carries before he left the game with a scratched eye.

Step Two was to pressure Mastrole, who is still learning Maryland's new offense. The junior is not as fleet as last year's quarterback Brian Cummings on option plays and has had problems delivering passes while under pressure.

The proof was in his one yard of net rushing, 3-for-9 passing for 27 yards and the 35-3 deficit Maryland faced when he left the game.

"They shut us down," Mastrole said. "They took away our running game and then got our long passing. It was tough, but execution was the big thing. I had their rush in my face most of the night and things began to break down."

Enter Jones, the Thomas Johnson High graduate who gave the Terps a lift, although be it against WVU's defensive reserves.

Still, Jones showed agility to buy time in the pocket and mobility on option plays to force the defense to make a decision. Jones wasn't perfect, but at the time, he was an improvement. Jones engineered three scoring drives, including a 7-minute, 39-second drive for a Brian Kopka 43-yard field goal.

"I was a little nervous out there, but it was good experience," Jones said. "Of course I would have liked to get in under different circumstances, but it was a chance to get in."

It didn't help Maryland's situation that WVU quarterback Marc Bulger was in total control of the game. Despite complaints from fans of too much passing and not enough running by Amos Zereoue, the junior was the catalyst for the Mountaineers.

Maryland came out looking to stuff Zereoue, WVU's All-American tailback, and succeeded early until Bulger unleashed his passing attack. In the end, Bulger was 20 for 25 throwing for 293 yards and three touchdowns while Zereoue rolled up 135 yards on 24 carries with two touchdowns, his 14th career 100-yard game.

So now, the direction of Maryland's near future could very well be decided this week in practice - will it be Ken Mastrole or Randall Jones at quarterback.

"West Virginia did a great job," Vanderlinden said. "They came out and exe

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